Roger Ebert has died. Chances are that will mean nothing to a lot of people in this country, but to those in anyway connected to the media or the world of criticism it no doubt hurts like a swift kick to the heart.
I guess the first time I saw Ebert was on TV when I was on a family holiday to the USA and just sat there completely fixated on his TV show and the way that here were two people just chatting about films, but they made you interested, told you why you might like it and what you could compare it to and how it fitted in with what had come before. Heck, that probably just sounds like Every Reviewer Ever but there was just something about Ebert that put him high above the every day film critic, even if you didn’t always agree with his opinions, (Hello The Human Centipede) the way in which he described them or explained his dislikes made you nod and respect his opinion.
As my love of cinema grew and I gobbled up books and books of history, reviews and the genres and themes of modern and classic films, Ebert was one of those names that just always came popping up, he seemed to be respected by everyone in the business, engrained in everything behind the camera (Even writing Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls and having a hand in the Pistols’ Who Killed Bambi?) and the culture of the acting and directing worlds. Hi, Pulitzer Prize. Ebert deserved it and indeed got it.
His name will live on, up there with Pauline Kael (although she did it in a harsher fashion) as the perfect example of how to share your love of film with anyone who wants it. RIP Mr Ebert, two thumbs down to cancer but two thumbs up for everything you gave the media world in your seventy years.